Year: 2018

Client: Private

Location: Myvatn, Iceland

Program: Hospitality

Status: Concept, Complete

L j ó m a  is a series of northern lights viewing cabins designed to be located within the UNESCO world heritage site of Myvatn Lake in northern Iceland. The architectural response is informed by the dynamic and constantly changing landscape of Iceland. Our design intent was to produce a living architecture that responds to the landscape in terms of its form, interactive nature and the way in which the human moves through the space.


Beyond the cabins, the site also accommodates a series of communal spaces providing shared kitchen and dining facilities, sauna, arrival and providore as well as horse stables, parking and a self-contained host-house. Each of these spaces have been designed to be housed separately within their own structure, placing emphasis on the individual experience of each ritual.


Each building is connected by a walkway which reflects the hiking trails across Iceland and creates a journey from one structure to the next, allowing for an experience of discovery amongst the shifting landscape. Despite the static nature of these buildings, the way in which they have been organized and pulled apart means the guests travel through each structure, activating the space and creating a "living architecture". Further to this, each building contains operable elements such as moveable louvres, pivot doors and movable walls that directly involved the guest in the narrative of the design. This mimics our relationship with landscape and plays homage to the notion that as humans, we interact with the natural environment rather than just being observers.


The form of the fixed architecture has been derived from two axis point directed towards the highest peaks visible from the site, Krafla to the north and Vindbelgarfjall to the West. The orientation of each structure has been designed to maximize on views, whilst the movable cabins can be orientated towards the best vista for viewing of the northern lights. The slope of the roofs alternate reflecting the shifting tectonic plates and how the landforms are created.


Throughout the design function takes prevalence over form, with each structure being designed from the inside out. Inspired by the ephemeral nature of the northern lights, ljóma or 'glow' is the activation of each space just as the northern lights is the activation of the sky and landscape at night. The human interaction with the architecture becomes the glow that reflects this relationship.